How to Re-Carpet a pontoon Deck
Re-carpeting a pontoon deck is like rebuilding a pontoon. The furniture, fencing, trim, and seat pedestals all have to come off first. When the new carpet has been laid they all have to be reset. This is a weekend job for some people with some basic mechanical ability, for others it can be a month long project. Study everything you can before beginning a project like this.
Before the project:
These are some considerations that should be made before taking everything apart. Does the furniture need to be replaced? If the deck boards need to be replaced will it fit into the budget? Is there a proper area available to do this project with plenty of space? Are the supplies readily available for the project? Could the pontoon be used for now and the project be planned for a better time?
The first thing to do is take everything off the deck of the pontoon. Take the furniture off first leaving the captains stand till later. Then take off the top (bimini, stationary, or hard top). If it is going to be reused make sure to take proper care to protect it from damage till it can be re-assembled. Take off the fencing, deck trim, any running lights, seat, table, and ladder mounts. Then begin to disassemble-assemble the captain stand. The primary systems are the steering, throttle controls, and electrical. (Until we can put up a How to Hints page for these refer to your local mechanic or qualified parts center.)
Put all the fasteners where they can be used later. If they break or are to worn to be reused keep them for a sample of what you need. They can be put in plastic bags and marked so they are not mixed together.
When the deck has been completely cleared off the carpet will need to be pulled up. Using a flat head screw driver or a putty knife lift one corner of the carpet and pull it back. Depending on the condition of the carpet, the deck, and the quality of the glue this part of the project could be easy or very difficult. Use a round tip shovel or an ice spade to work under the carpet and pry it up. Leave as little of the fiber of the old carpet on the deck as possible. Once the carpet is up check the deck closely to establish that a new deck is NOT necessary.
Clean the deck boards off with a broom and make sure there aren't any large bumps that will show through the new carpet. Roll out the new carpet on the deck and make sure it will fit. Do NOT CUT at this time. If the carpet is cooler than the outside temperature take lunch and let the carpet lay on the deck in the sun for a while. Then stretch it out a little more once it has heated up. Check to make sure the carpet looks its best before beginning the gluing. Some deck carpet has a slight pattern to the nap is it laid satisfactory?
Start from the front or the back and pull the carpet back a couple feet. Doing the gluing in 4' x 8' sections like the decking boards will do well. Apply the glue with a serrated edge trowel to the deck in a circular overlapping pattern. Thick is not necessarily better. Too much glue could cause more problems than being a little thin in spots. Use an oil base indoor/outdoor glue. Using a water base glue can cause problems if it does not dry before a rain. Even several days later, water base glue can cause a pale chalk like look to come up through the carpet after a rain. When the first section is completely covered with glue lay the carpet down on it. Press the carpet down without moving it out except to eliminate wrinkles.
Do not glue the edges of the plywood and wrap the carpet over. This will cause the boards to rot prematurely by retaining any moister in the grains of the board without a route of escape.
Carefully fold the carpet back on itself from the other direction. (do this in approximately the same amount of carpet as you will be gluing per section.) Expose enough of the already glued section so that the glue can be applied continuously from there. Do one section at a time in the same way as described above. The rest of the sections can usually be pulled tightly forward without altering the first section of carpet. If it is possible have someone stand on the first section to prevent it from being pulled too far.
Once each section has been glued then laid check the carpet to see that it is straight and level. Work any air pockets out that may have been missed. They will not disappear once the glue has dried. Even if they seem to have gone away later they are not firmly attached to the deck and will wear out faster than areas of the carpet that have been properly attached. If possible rent a carpet weight/roller and roll over the entire surface of the deck. (Any heavy round tank can be used with caution to apply even downward pressure.)
When the carpet is stabilized begin to cut the excess off. Cut flush with the deck boards or even back about 1/4" if desired. Do not wrap excess over the edges of the plywood! Start to re-assemble the deck with the deck trim pieces first. This will also hold the carpet in place better. It may be better to wait till the next day to do any moving around of the fence and furniture on the deck. This will give the glue a chance to set up and prevent stretching of the new carpet.
Reassemble the parts in the same way as they came off. When cutting holes for the steering cables, throttle control cables, and wiring start from the middle of the existing hole and cut out to the side then remove the carpet up to the edge of the hole similar to the trimming on the edges of the deck. Sometimes this excess is left and shoved down through the hole. This wouldn't hurt the deck but it does gather more moister and dirt than having the hole free from excess materials. There are boots that can be purchased to trim out a hole like this, however; it is rarely necessary.
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